We stayed in Ohakune which is at the bottom of Mount Ruapehu and seems to be the largest town in the area. We found out late into our time here that Mt Ruapehu is Mordor in Lord of the Rings.
We were hoping to have 4 days where we could learn to snowboard, however, we quickly learnt that the end of the season is not the best time to expect the slopes to be open everyday! We managed to get 2 days of snowboarding in and progressed to one of the intermediate level slopes. So can now proclaim we snowboarded on Mordor! The volcano also had some beautiful views from the top…
On the other days when we weren’t able to snowboard, we explored the local area. Ohekune is well known for a giant carrot statue so we walked up to this. We also mountain biked along The Old Coach Road where we had to make it across a precarious ford which was high due to the large amount of rainfall. The cycle ride was bumpy and slippery, but we managed to not fall into the pools of mud. It wasn’t the best route in the rain, but it was well worth it for some of the views.
There were plenty of short walks within the local area. These included two waterfalls which we visited, both were 30 minutes to an hour from the main road, but it was well worth it to see the water hurtling down from above.
Other local towns were very small, but included; Whakapapa which had a brilliant Information Centre (the best in New Zealand in my opinion) focusing on conservation and the geology of the local area. National Park Village had a few more amenities, including a brilliant cafe by the station which had reasonably priced specials, including a lovely beer and steak pie! Horopito was a very small town (would be a village in the UK) which had a large car graveyard at the base of the mountain with sheep roaming between the carcasses of the cars, it was a real ‘human vs nature’ site.